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Relic Helmet Opinions?

Article about: Hi! I have a ground dug helmet here, feeling risky to experiment with it. I got this cheapo for \\$15 from a friend. Not sure what to do with it, I want to experiment, dipping it in different

  1. #1

    Default Relic Helmet Opinions?


    I have a ground dug helmet here, feeling risky to experiment with it.

    I got this cheapo for $15 from a friend.

    Not sure what to do with it, I want to experiment, dipping it in different types of vinegar to see which one is the best, but to also get some of the rust off. I'm not looking for a spectacular clean. I know that the rust is more than advanced and most of the steel is totally gone.
    Just want to get some of the flaking and rust off.

    It really isn't a condition to "show it off", but I'd like to display it on top of a piano or a desk or something.
    The only concern is that of the holes on the top of the helmet. Do you think that they will disintegrate to reveal one large hole?
    What are your opinions?
    What would you do with it?
    I suppose that I will upload before, mid process, and after pictures of the helmet for those who would like to clean their helmets but do not know what to use, or would like to use some sort of vinegar.
    Warm regards,
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  3. #2


    Not a lot you can do with this one.... your friend should have given it to you!
    Any rust removal process will reveal just how little remains of the steel.
    The liner band wll probaby fall out ( said from experience )

    Experiment away but don't hold out much hope... sorry.

    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

  4. #3


    Yeah... Don't really have much hope for this one.

  5. #4


    If you just want to experiment I'd give it a quick going over with a wire brush and then maybe stick it in an electrolyte bath, all depending on how stable it is. Yes the hole at the top will probably get a bit larger.


  6. #5


    You'll probably find more holes than you thought possible once some of that rust starts dissolving away.

  7. #6


    I'd just keep it in a dry place and enjoy it for what it is!...
    It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.

    I'm Spartacus, not really i'm Paul!...

  8. #7


    Maybe I'll just scrub it off gently. Thank you for your opinions!

    Warm Regards,

  9. #8


    I've decided to renew my post here, because this is one of the most interesting things I have done.
    Since I was being stubborn, and my curiosity got the best of me, I decided that I would go with it, because
    A, Rust would be flaking off uncontrollably even after I scrubbed it gently
    B, it's in terrible condition. The only thing that can happen to it is the hole getting a tad bigger, and the rust coming off.
    That is.. If i'm careful.

    So, the other week, I received the helmet, and got my clear tub, and bristle. I bent over the plastic tub with the bristle and went over it gently. To my amazement, absolutely nothing came off, except teeny tiny speckles, that look like the gold they find in gold panning shows. If you ran this through a sifter, it would go right through. When I bought it, it looked like it still had dirt on it, as it was ground dug after all, so I rinsed it under some water and eventually, that got a clump of hardened dirt out that had looked like rust.

    I set the helmet down, and ran to the store. The only bad thing was, was that they never had the oxalic acid, so in my head, I was storming up words not fit for this forum. I had remembered the vinegar, and thought it was a magnificent idea, because I don't want anything too harsh, and not too weak. I had worked in my head, that If I got distilled vinegar with 5% in it, it should be totally fine to not disintegrate any more of the hole that was left on the top of the helmet. I mean, Obviously I was wrong, but I was in the heat of the moment and acting foolishly. I bought myself some 5% distilled vinegar in a 1 gallon bottle and ran my way home grinning. (Drove)

    After making sure that all the things that were on the helmet that were loose, referring to debris, I set the helmet in the tub, and poured the vinegar on top of the helmet making sure that the entire helmet was coated. What I hadn't thought about though.... Was that I needed way more than one gallon. Guys, if you're buying something that you know you might need more of, please overshoot what you need. This was the most annoying thing ever, to go back to the store. I bought 4 more gallons and went to the same cashier, and she looked at me like I was trying to dispose of a body or something.
    I left the helmet in the tub while I was gone, leaving only a small inch of the skirt dipped in.

    When I came back, to my delight, the rust had already started chipping off, and the vinegar became insanely murky.
    I poured all the vinegar I had, and once again, it wasn't enough. Crap.

    I pondered, and found an old candy cauldron that I use at Halloween to give candy out. It was wide enough, and tall enough but yet compact so that the vinegar isn't so spread out into a swimming pool, or a fish tank. I first cleaned out the cauldron and placed the helmet inside. I poured the vinegar very slowly, making sure not to spill anything, and it finally flowed over the top of the helmet completely submersing it entirely. Yes!!

    On the first night, I was very excited, because of the amount of rust that had instantly obeyed the vinegar instantly. Most likely because of its acidity, but it was flakes of heavy yellowish rust as well.

    I returned every 30 minutes to flip the helmet, and when I flipped it on the top the first time, I was scared because I had thought that the hole in the top was just going to completely cave in. I let it sit an hour this time, and by this time It had reached about 3 AM in the morning lol.
    I came back to it, and looked inside. There was all sorts of gunk on top of the water, and was very pleased at what looked to be coming off as even more rust.

    I reached in, and inspected the top. Holy crap! none of the top parts in the hole had came off, but some of the smaller of pieces of rust did. The hole did not get bigger, and it did not get smaller. Magnificent!
    I inspected the helmet, and got my brush, then started lightly scrubbing. A mixture of dirt, and flakes of rust was peeling its way off the helmet, and I dunked it back in the vinegar to rinse it off, then go back to scrubbing. Okay. As a side note, this wasn't hard scrubbing at all. This was very gentle and circular scrubs. This seemed to do the trick to get underneath the rust, and have the flakes just pop off. I looked inside the helmet, and inspected the back, trying to look and see if I could find it's maker stamp. No luck, the rust had totally covered it up.

    The liner ring inside was actually rusted onto the helmet itself, and a piece of it looked already loose and had magically disappeared inside the vinegar, so I assume that the only thing that was holding it on was the rust. I dunked it once more, coating the entire helmet with vinegar, and scrubbed a tad bit harder. I wear glasses, and it's a good thing i do. As soon I started, it felt like a bombardment of constant flakes of rust hitting my glasses, clothes, floor, you name it. Everywhere. I worked on the liner as well, with gentle circular motions to try to get the liner ring out and uncover the code. No luck there, as there had been a massive clump of hardened rust, that I wasn't about to go messing with and then create myself a new hole.

    I went along the skirts of the helmet attempting to reveal the folding a bit more, and it somewhat worked. I set my brush down, dunked it again to get the small flakes off that were somewhat attached to it, that I had gone over with my brush. Then began to inspect my work.

    Now let me say this now, I had absolutely no hope there was going to be any paint left. I KNEW that it wasn't possible. But at 5:30AM I looked inside the left side of the liner and saw this teeny tiny patch of gray paint. This was a eureka moment for me, and had to take it inside my home, still wet and dripping with vinegar. I took it under a bright light on my desk and, as I was correct, It was its original paint. There were no other spots on the helmet that had this, or looked like I had gotten deep enough.

    Where the paint was lying, looked like a crater almost of rust. Later in the process, it turns out that the rust had formed layers upon layers on itself. That's why it looked like it had bubbling and extreme pitting on the surface. Now, as I look at it, it has pitting, but not to the extent of when i first begun the project. See in later photos.

    I set the helmet back in, and covered it with saran wrap so that the vinegar wouldn't evaporate. The vinegar barely skimmed the top of the helmet, and I wanted the entire thing to be totally dunked for the entire night.

    I came back in the morning near 9:00 AM, and looked at the saran wrap. It had worked! There were droplets on top of the wrap, and the helmet still completely submerged. I went back into my home, and played a few games online, did some work, then went back to go check near 12:00 AM.

    I was ecstatic, and nearly shaking of the nervousness to see what actually lied beneath the rust, and if I had gotten any more off. I took the saran wrap off, and looked inside without disturbing the liquid. It smelled like an insane high-school bath room, and was so bad that I was forced to put on a small mask to help with the odor. I continued inspecting the liquid, and examining the bubbles that were coming out of the cracks in the rust. Eventually, I got excited again, and gently took it out. I got my brush and brushed a little off on the bill, and skirt of it, steering clear of the top for the last.

    I tried my best to get the inside of the helmet, and trying to avoid the spot where the paint was. I cheered in my head, as I saw the paint still there, so I wasn't going insane. After varying levels of how hard I was scrubbing, I my body got used to the motion, and I didn't even think about looking at the helmet. In fact, I had my laptop looking at metal detecting videos of the Eastern Front!
    I also forgot to mention that I am using heavy duty kitchen gloves that stretch up to near your elbows.
    About an hour of scrubbing, I had come back to reality and looked down. I nearly had a heart attack as I saw even MORE colors of varying gray. The outside skirt had an odd light grayish, darker than silver, while as it got farther up the helmet, there were some tiny circular spots of the gray paint I had seen on the inside of the skirt! I had thought of how this could happen, and why, but then i had noticed that these very places, were where the bubbles had been, of varying size from tiny bubbles to larger. Thoughts and doubts were racing through my mind, and at this point, I believed it was a fake. I had convinced myself so much that there wasn't any chance of the paint coming out, that it was like seeing the Easter Bunny. I set the helmet back in the liquid, and forgot to cover it with saran wrap. I came back at about 10:00 PM and noticed that the top of the helmet had been exposed to the air, and thee liquid had somewhat evaporated. Shit!
    I remembered I had a tiny bottle of vinegar under my sink for cleaning purposes and decided to pour that in, and it once again filled to submerge it.
    I repeated the same process of putting my laptop on a stand, watching videos, and once again, scrubbing. Instead of a wire brush, I used a strong nylon one instead this seemed to be safer.

    I could easily confirm that this one had no decals on it, because the rust had just popped off, but it left the helmet looking as if it had freckles of gray everywhere. On both sides, there wasn't a single decal to be seen, ALTHOUGH as I mentioned before, where the decal is supposed to be, there was a dark gray that didn't look like any of the other patterns before. It wasn't in any shape of an eagle, though, it didn't look anything like an eagle. No swastika, nothing. I scrubbed the rear of the skirt where I thought that the code would be, and got even more of the heavy rust off there. Upon scrubbing right under the liner, a piece of the liner fell out and plopped right into the disgusting potion-looking liquid giving it a large plop, and spashing some vinegar onto me. wiping this off, I had to take a shower, because the odor REFUSED to leave. If you ever work with vinegar, please use clothes that you will never use again. It's like a skunk smell. It will stay on your fingers, body, everywhere.

    I examined, and had a lot of success seeing more grayish looking "paint" varying from dark gray all the way up to gray that looked like a darker shade of silver. I had scrubbed the rear skirt even more, and am starting to begin to see the paint where the code is supposed to be, as well. I still can't seem to be able to see the code at all, though. No trace of it, this is most likely because of the rust that needs to be cleared there. The two rivets had light gray on them, and one of the rivets had rust that had eaten through a tiny part of it. There are massive clumps of rust on the forehead of the helmet, and I have no idea how i will get that off, not about to go and get a chisel and start gently scraping it off, like someone suggested on another site.

    I leave it in saran wrap when I go to bed, and then go to work, and scrub it at night when I get bored, or see that it is most fit and time for it to be taken out and scrubbed. I will post pictures of it this upcoming weekend with my phone. At the end of the project, I'll do a before and after pictures of when I first bought it, When I first saw the paint, the middle process, where some of the paint starts coming out (now), and the end result in a few weeks time.

    It's already been 4 days, and I'm starting to feel optimistic about this one.

    Please give me suggestions as to what you think this lighter gray and darker gray is!!!!
    Were helmets painted a lighter gray before the actual field gray was painted on, as we know?

    Warm Regards


  10. #9


    Man you are excitable........

    And this must be the record for the longest post.
    ( take note Harry! )
    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

  11. #10
    mpw is offline


    Sounds like quite an adventure you have had with this lid. Looking forward to seeing the photos.


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